As you may know, The VIP Forum is currently working on a research initiative on the client experience, given it was the top priority reported by the membership in our annual agenda poll last year. Many of you have been generous with your time over the past couple of months, speaking with our research team about your current initiatives around the client experience and the challenges you face in defining and delivering a high-quality client experience.

In each conversation we’ve had – about 30 firms to date – we begin with the same question: How do you define the high-net-worth client experience at your firm today? We received 30 different answers – most of which begin with a long pause. In fact, of all the questions we ask during a call, members find answering that single question most difficult. Responses usually center on the wealth management value proposition– an advice-driven offering with high-touch service and sophisticated investment expertise. Others take a channel approach, while many have no definition at all.

We recognize that wealth management is a relationship business—delivering a good “client experience” is what firms strive to do every day, in every interaction. So why is defining and delivering a high-quality client experience so paramount today? First, as firms operate in an environment of lower investment returns, performance is no longer a differentiator. Many firms are now approaching the client experience as the only means to differentiation in a crowded marketplace. But the question remains – what should be included in the definition of the client experience?

Based on our conversations with members, we identified three goals that encompass what a majority of the membership strives to achieve through the client experience: 1) deliver economic benefit to the client; 2) build an emotional connection; and 3) reduce clients’ effort of doing business with the firm. We expect that achieving these goals drives client loyalty and plan to test this hypothesis in an upcoming survey of approximately 1,000 high-net-worth wealth management clients. More specifically, we aim to identify what actions the advisor and firm can take to achieve those objectives.

We look forward to sharing our preliminary research with you in April. In the meantime, if you’d like to speak to our research team about this topic or offer suggestions of survey questions to include in our proprietary survey, please contact The VIP Forum by clicking here.